Iowa got a win today! In basketball! Men's! Against a Big Ten opponent! On the road! So obviously this is obligatory:
It would be a little more difficult to celebrate the small things about this win if Verdell Jones III had hit his last shot or if Victor Oladipo's tip in had found its mark, since it's hard to get excited about little things after any loss. Funny how something as unreliable as a last-second shot can mean the difference between "this team has what it takes" and "another long year," but that's sports, and that's life. Game of inches, etc. Wait, wrong game. You know what I mean.
But all that out of the way, there was a lot to like about this performance. There were several instances where Iowa could have lost its composure or started trying to get 8 points in one shot, and it never happened. Instead, when Indiana pushed the lead to 58-48 in the second half, Iowa used pressure defense to chip away at the lead. Indiana obliged, and in just two minutes, it was a tie game. Now, 10-0 runs aren't going to happen every game, so let's get that notion out of our heads, but this is clearly a team that at least has that capability, and we've now seen it in a pressure situation. Great to see.
It's also good to see Melsahn Basabe putting in work like that. Indiana's not huge across the front, but Basabe didn't coast by on athleticism to get his 20-and-13; he was fighting on the glass, throwing himself into defenders to get tips, and beasting in general. That he's a true freshman is still somewhat surreal; we weren't seeing this type of production out of Cyrus Tate until halfway through Tate's junior year. Again; how in the world was this kid going to end up at Siena?
Cully Payne's presence is clearly missed on this Iowa team. The Hawkeyes need depth at point guard and they just don't have it. That said, Bryce Cartwright is not giving up the starting role without a serious fight. Cartwright makes that offense--a real up-tempo, Fran-type offense--run well. Payne might too; he hasn't been given much of a chance to show either way. But Cartwright has results, and for that reason we expect him to start as long as he's healthy and in good graces for the rest of his Iowa career.
Also, Eric May is the prom king now and forever.
Guys, it has been four years since Iowa won two Big Ten games in a row. IT HASN'T BEEN FUN. But here we are, and things have maybe, just maybe, started to turn.